Joe’s Weather Blog: This ?!?@#$! freezing fog (MON-1/23)

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Good morning…and once again we’re starting out our day with fog and freezing fog in the area…and my opinion is that this has the earmarks of one of those days that we’re going to really struggle to break out into sunshine again…hopefully we will in the afternoon…but again today temperatures will struggle. We’ll try to stir the air more tomorrow and sort of start breaking this repetitive pattern that we’ve been in for the last several days. I want to explain today why this fog has been an issue…so it’s a small Weather 101 lesson blog.

Forecast:

Today: Fog/clouds AM…some breaks towards mid afternoon. Highs struggle to near 40°. Light winds.

Tonight: The fog may again settle back into the area…lows in the 30s

Tuesday: Variable clouds…breezy and milder with highs into the 50s. There may be some showers as well towards evening with the cold front coming into the area.

Wednesday: Chillier with clouds. Highs only in the 30s (seasonable)

Discussion:

So this is the view from our Metropolitan Community College Campus Camera network shot from the Penn Valley Campus at 9AM this morning.

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Downtown should be towards the top of the picture…and obviously you can’t see it.

Elsewhere in the region…fog has cut visibility in many areas

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The morning satellite picture shows the extent of this fog…which is really just a cloud on the ground.

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The darker areas on that picture above represent where skies are sunny this morning. For example…near Topeka…towards Paola (although that is changing because of a south drift to the low clouds)…towards Butler and Nevada and into SE KS. Everywhere else though there are leftover clouds from yesterday and/or the new fog development from overnight.

This has been a recurrent issue over the past 5 days(?) or so…seems like forever…even going back to the ice events of a couple of weekends ago. So why is this happening?

Notice in the observations from KCI…the progression of what happened overnight. we started with clear skies around 12AM…this allowed the temperatures to start dropping.

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As the temperatures dropped…the dew points initially dropped with the temperature…then stopped dropping. This happened at the surface…above us though in the lower 1000-2000 feet of the atmosphere the same thing happened.

So when the temperature and the dew point matched up (or got close to matching up)…the humidity nearly 100%. In other words the air was almost totally saturated. When this happens, water vapor in the air…can come together (condensation) and form incredibly tiny water droplets. This is how a cloud forms and since this was occurring so close to the ground…the cloud formed near the ground.

There are several different types of fog…the type that we’ve mostly been plagued with lately is radiation fog. What adds to the density is just a tiny breeze…like last night..this chilled air is then condensed into a deeper layer of fog/clouds and can take longer to burn off since the sun angle in January is weaker than say in June.

That has been the issue for the last few days…

As far as the freezing fog aspect of this…with temperatures in the 20s to near 30° or so…those now super-cooled water droplets freeze onto surfaces…and this creates slick conditions, especially IF those surfaces are are below 32° such as bridges and overpasses which are vulnerable to becoming slippery in these cases.

So now that the Weather 101 lesson is done…what can change the rut we’re in?

Lots of wind and a new air mass. This will be happening over the next few days as winds in the atmosphere start transporting different air into the area and transport this air mass on top of us elsewhere or actually disburses the air on top of us. When this occurs and when the dew points and the temperature spread become more different as opposed to being so close together we break the pattern of repetitive fog formation.

That doesn’t mean we can’t get low clouds again…we probably will on Wednesday as colder air comes in and creates a wealth of low cloud cover…this is because the lower clouds will move into the area from the north and northwest. Although there shouldn’t be the fog issues of the last several+ days.

So now you know and the Weather lesson is over with for the day.

I was talking about the freezing fog potential last night…and I guess I made a funny face that one of our viewers caught on DVR and snapped. She realized that I looked like Walter from the Jeff Dunham shows…I thought it was funny and it’s my feature photo of the day. Thanks to Lei Carver for the comparison…I think?

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Joe

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